North East coaches benefit from skills development sessions

Ongoing CPD made available to NE instructors and coaches
Coaches 20 Jul 21

A coaching development programme in the North East has seen participants taking new ideas back to their clubs and into their daily lives.

Eleven racing coaches from across the region signed up for a series of four virtual sessions held online followed by a practical on-the-water workshop.

All were Race Coach Level 2 certificate holders who will now be taking their expertise back to their clubs, including Pennine SC, Covenham S C, Yorkshire Dales SC, Scaling Dam SC, North Lincs and Humberside SC, Derwent Reservoir SC and Ripon SC.

The programme in the North East was set up as part of an RYA initiative to make ongoing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) available for instructors and coaches.

Sam Usher, Regional Development Officer for RYA North East, explains: “A Race Coach Level 2 certificate is just the start of the learning journey and CPD provides an opportunity for our coaches to then continue growing their knowledge, skills and confidence so they feel empowered to deliver great sessions. Participants are also able to transfer some of the benefits to their every day lives.”

Ideas sharing

The RYA North East programme enabled Race Coach Level 2 coaches to get together to share their experiences and included looking at preparation and what works well on the water, along with a chance for each coach to devise and put a session into practise.

Coaches were also invited to bring their own questions to the CPD and these included how to bridge the age gap when trying to engage a young audience, and an older participant no longer sailing but still coaching and wanting to know how best to work around that scenario.

RYA Coaching Development Manager, David Mellor, who ran the sessions, said that for many coaches who go from busy working lives to then coaching at the weekends, the programme provided time and space to think about different ways of doing things.

“There’s no assessment, it’s purely an opportunity to experiment and try something new, and participants benefit from lots of fresh ideas, either from me or from each other,” said David. “The sessions enable race coaches to take the next steps to improve their skills and explore coaching beyond the content covered by the Level 2 and 3 certificates.”

The virtual sessions included insights into how people learn and behave, introducing Carol Dweck’s growth mindset theory and the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters, and many participants found this aspect helpful not only for coaching skills but also in terms of personal development, providing an added bonus of potential benefits on the home and work front as well.

As David explains: “Often people might not have heard of these concepts before coming to CPD and although we make the link to coaching, lots of people find they also apply to relationships with their family and children, and to how they interact with their work and colleagues.

“Lots of concepts can be taken away which help participants to understand situations and people beyond just coaching and the practical skills as well – in terms of growing in confidence to present to an audience and lead sessions – also cross over into everyday life and the workplace.”

Practical tips

Among the participants was Mike Bayliss, of Covenham SC, who is a Senior Instructor and Race Coach Level 2 and volunteers three hours a week at his club, working with youth and junior sailors.

Mike particularly found the practical on-the-water day helpful and for the future is keen to learn more about how to improve engagement with young people and respond to issues such as when children are not listening or not wanting to join in with a particular exercise.

“Having other coaches confirm what does or doesn’t work and considering how to make some of the exercises better was useful. It was a good opportunity to get to know other coaches and share ideas with people who have similar challenges,” said Mike. “One comment David made that I found valuable - and it was an observation that the kids wouldn’t have made - was that I answered my own questions, which is about enthusiasm over common sense, and so I have to be patient.

“I signed up to the sessions because I do believe in self-improvement and I felt that I was a bit isolated. We’re all just out on our own in little clubs, so it’s nice to get together and connect with other coaches and it was rewarding to see the importance that the RYA gives to coaches and to be recognised for what you do as a volunteer. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t want to do it but if we believe in coaching others, we should believe in coaching for ourselves too.”

Timely refresher

Also among the participants were Fiona and Nick Spence from Ripon SC, who echoed Mike’s view. Fiona said: “We found it really interesting and for me the sessions were most useful as a way of connecting with like-minded people to get hints and tips and new ideas, and share experiences and get feedback about your own coaching style. That’s how you grow as a coach and it was also lovely to meet other volunteers doing it for the benefit of local groups or clubs and to feel you weren’t on your own because there are limited opportunities for coaches to get together.

“We weren’t able to do much last year because of the pandemic so thought it might be good to brush up our skills and the online sessions were good for thinking about the fundamentals of how you teach. The day of sailing on the water was then great because you all get to meet and interact and I’ve already used two of the sessions we went through myself because they were really good.”

While Fiona and Nick had both come across the more academic growth mindset and inner chimp content previously on courses, they found it a useful refresher not only for coaching but also for managing their busy ironmongery business in Leeds through the challenges of the pandemic.

“These concepts weren’t new to us but it was a nice recap and a really timely reminder of ideas which we have referenced at work when people have returned stressed after the pandemic,” said Fiona. “I would recommend people sign up for these coaching development opportunities because I came home enthused about it all again and would be up for doing more.”

Courses & Resources

There are now lots of opportunities for coaches to engage with RYA resources:

  • Clubs and classes: There is a nationwide team of 24 RYA Race Coach Tutors available to provide support for clubs and class associations who want to find out more about coach education and developing race training for their sailors.
  • RYA Learning Network: An interactive digital library of training exercises, coaching videos, activities and ideas which coaches can view and download to build into their own sessions. This online resource is free to all qualified race instructors and coaches, who can receive a passkey code by emailing
  • Connect with Coaching: Online CPD workshops for club and class coaches hosted in small groups to maximise engagement. There is also an accompanying video series highlighting coaching practice across the RYA junior and youth classes focusing on the core racing competencies: starting, speed, boat handling, strategy and tactics. These can be viewed either on the RYA Dinghy Racing Channel or the RYA website.

The RYA North East programme for coaches was a bespoke version of the Connect with Coaching sessions. As Tim Cross from the RYA Coach Development Team explains: “Over the last 12 months we’ve evolved our offer beyond just the Level 2/3 courses and have been piloting some ideas, one of which was to have remote CPD with a practical workshop at the end.

“We’re trying to reach out to our network of coaches to understand their challenges and provide friendly and accessible support. The feedback has been incredibly positive and we’d like to encourage other coaches, clubs and classes, to make the most of the opportunities available to pick up ideas, build confidence and deepen their knowledge so they feel empowered and also rewarded when they see the difference it makes to the sailors they are coaching.”

A total of 75 clubs and class association coaches have now participated in RYA Connect with Coaching workshops. Across the country there are currently nearly 1,200 Race Coach Level 2 and Level 3 coaches, of whom 550 are currently registered with the RYA Learning Network.

If you’re an RYA Race Instructor or Race Coach and would like to find out more or register for free with the RYA Learning Network to benefit from all the resources available to support you, get in touch by emailing: